This isn’t a carnival, it’s a police state
By Damian Thompson
August 19th, 2011
Next weekend, I shall be living in a police state. There will be policemen at either end of my little street, policemen on duty outside my local pub, policemen guarding the entrance to the supermarket. If I go to the shops and plan to return to my flat by anything other than the circuitous “official” route, I’ll have to show my local residents’ ID to one of the 5,000 police officers patrolling the neighbourhood.
You see, I live in Notting Hill and it’s Carnival time again. And what a special Carnival it promises to be, coming less than a month after street gangs attacked shops and restaurants bang in the middle of the parade route. Members of those gangs will be back for “Europe’s largest fun-filled event”, as the BBC wants us to think of it. That’s why this year the cost of policing it will approach £10 million for the first time.
I don’t want to sound like a killjoy. There’s plenty of fun to be had at the Carnival, as revellers glug their way through 25,000 bottles of rum to the accompaniment of dozens of screaming sound systems. But that fun comes at a price, believe me. You should read the surveyor’s report on our house. I’ve just forked out 12 grand to fortify walls loosened by the pulsating throb of the Carnival. Or “Carnivaaal”, as right-on folk pronounce it.